Monday, October 29, 2012

Giveaway at High Heels and Grills

Hey Lovely Readers! How was your weekend? I took a quick weekend trip to Arizona to visit family. We had a great time!!

So I just quickly wanted to let you know about a giveaway I'm hosting over at High Heels and Grills. Go over and enter and check out Sarah's blog! She has some amazing recipes! 



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Life of Grace and Bliss Guest Post

Today I have the honor of having Billie of A Life of Grace and Bliss guest posting for me. 

Do you love the sights and smells of autumn?  There is just something welcoming and relaxing about a nice fall scent.  I'm thinking apples, cinnamon, cloves, the smell of a crisp fall morning, the smell of the fire place burning briskly... ahhh!  It makes me want to hibernate in all the loveliness!

Do you know that a lot of candles you burn in your home and potpourri scents are toxic? 

Paraffin is the major ingredient in most candles. Paraffin is a waste product of the petroleum industry!  It releases carcinogenic chemicals when it's burned!  

Two particularly toxic chemicals are benzene and toluene.  Benzene is cancer-causing and Toluene is known to affect the central nervous system.

But you can still have that wonderful aroma in your home without the risk of toxins!  

One way is what I like to call a simmer pot!   A simmer pot can be one of those tiny crocks used for store-bought liquid potpourri, or as simple as a small kitchen sauce pot you place on the stove.  Just add a little water, some cinnamon sticks (you can buy these inexpensively at craft stores!) or some whole cloves from the spice aisle at the grocery!  Juicing an orange for breakfast?  Dice the remainder and add it to the pot.  Add some water and simmer away to create a fresh fragrance in your home.

Another way is by creating what are called fragrance stones: I saved this article from a fall-themed magazine several years ago - and it's a fun project to do with your kiddos, too.  Especially if they enjoy play dough activities!

Here's what you need to get started:

- 1 1/2 cups white flour
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1/4 tsp cornstarch
- 2/3 cup water, brought to a boil
- 1 Tbs essential oil or blend for fragrance
- 2 tbs dried herbs if desired
- Coloring if desired (all natural)


1. Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.
2. Stir in fragrance oil and coloring to boiling water and pour over the dry ingredients.
3. Stir until a ball of dough is formed.
4. Knead the dough until it is smooth like pastry dough.
5. Pinch pieces of the dough off the main ball and roll into small balls. You can make them any size you like.
6. You can also roll the dough out and cut it with cookie cutters at this point.
7. Let dry completely before using or giving.
You can use essential oils (found at health food stores, or the organic section of your regular supermarket)  for an all natural product or you can buy fragrance oils that are meant for soap and home made candles. These oils can be found at craft stores like Michael's and Ben Franklin Stores.  You can also mix your own custom scents from either the essential oils or the fragrance oils.

I hope you'll find time to try this fun project.  These are cute packaged in tissue paper tied with a ribbon, placed in a clear cellophane bag, or as an addition to a gift basket.  Teachers LOVE them!  And they are NON-toxic!

Making our homes a safer place...

Only By His Grace,


Awesome Billie! Thanks for coming by. I know so many people love having fragrance in their home, thank you for giving us a non-toxic solution!

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Top 10 Food Rules For Staying Healthy

Over the past year we've really been trying to change the way we eat in my family. I saw an interview with author Michael Pollan while waiting in my doctor's office one day last year and was really interested by the concepts he shared about changing our health and the way we eat. So a little while later I remembered this and looked up his book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. I read through it and everything made sense. I got his book Food Rules too, which is a condensed version of about 60 rules and I try to follow as many as I can. 

Well what are they? I'll share my top 10 with you. 

#1. What should you eat? Food. (If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.)
Two rules I combined into one...haha simple, right? But it can actually be pretty complicated to make healthy choices amid the sea of "edible foodlike substances" as Pollan references them, products that are made by science and not grown in nature. What I do is buy and eat food as close to it's natural state as possible/practical/affordable for our family. So instead of buying condensed soups, I make my own with broth, milk, flour, butter, etc. Much better than canned soup with the chemical preservatives that are added to prevent spoiling.

#2. Avoid Food Products Containing Ingredients That A Third Grader Can't Say.
Processed food are going to contain more of the scientific words you don't recognize so avoid these. Natural foods will be straight forward ingredients you will recognize. 

#3. Avoid Foods Pretending to Be Something Else
Margarine, Soy-based imitation meats (soy dogs, etc), artificial sweeteners, and fake fats. Avoid all these due to the high amount of processing they go through to become the fake version of a real food. Again, keep it as close to nature as you realistically can. 

#4. Avoid Foods Advertised on Tv
Think about it, you don't (typically) see commercials for apples or spinach. Only the biggest food manufactures can afford tv advertising campaigns and they make their money on highly processed convenience foods.

#5. Eat Only Food That Will Eventually Rot
Have you ever seen those pictures of a fast food meal right after it was purchased and then again months/years later? No, well they look the same! 

Yuck! There are tons of preservatives and artificial ingredients added and many nutrients are removed to prevent mold growth in this way. You don't want that in your body, there is no break down and our bodies can't deal with it and get it out so it just stores it as fat in the body.

#6. Eat Mostly Plants/Treat Meat as a Special Occasion Food
This is actually two rules, but they're one for us. We've really been focusing on this lately. In April we went completely meatless for a month, my husband's suggestion, he wanted to see if it would help him feel better. I don't know what he found, but I lost 5 pounds just from making that one change! Since then we only eat meat when we eat out on special occasions. We still feel satisfied and we save a ton of money!! Plus, with so much controversy about hormone treated animals, why risk adding those harmful chemicals to your body. 

#7. Sweeten or Salt Your Food Yourself
I know many people who mindlessly add salt/sugar before even tasting their food. Most processed foods today are already overloaded with more salt/sugar than a normal human would add on their own. Instead, do it yourself and you'll consume a fraction of these ingredients. Ingredients that through chronic over consumption can lead to cardiac disease, diabetes, weight gain, etc. 

#8.Eat Sweet Food As You Find Them In Nature
Sugars found in nature usually come with fiber to make you feel full, unlike liquid form which doesn't, so don't drink your sweets! This might hurt some of you: "There is no such thing as a  healthy soda." Besides not having fiber, soda does a whole host of bad things to your body:

#9. Eat Whole Grain Breads:
"The Whiter The Bread, The Sooner You'll Die" 
To the body, white flour is no different than sugar, it can spike your blood sugar and mess with your metabolism. White flour is the result of stripping the wheat of the nutrients, making it mostly empty calories. Try to use mostly whole wheat flour when baking and opt for whole wheat breads to get the most nutrients for your body. 

#10. Eat When You're Hungry Not When You're Bored
So many times we find ourselves standing in front of the pantry/fridge staring mindlessly. Many of us have grown up snacking all day and always needing something to chew on. Instead of snacking, grab a drink of water (I've read that warm/room temp water keeps you full longer) and then do something active! I have really improved myself with this by not keeping snacky or readily available foods in the house. I don't usually feel like cooking just for a snack so I just wait until the next meal or grab an apple. lol

Bonus Rule:
Wait 3 Generations to Eat Man-Made Foods Created With New Processes 
I love this one. I got this one from another site I love to read, Word of Wisdom Living. Skip shares the example of Crisco, it was originally invented in 1911, but by 2011 most everyone knew the dangers of trans fats in Crisco. With time comes more knowledge so don't be the first to jump on the bandwagon of some new foodlike substance/imitation food/or new process of making some food.

There you are, my top 10 11 food rules. What kind of things do you do to keep your family healthy? What are your food rules?

Monday, October 8, 2012

My First 5K and My Hemophilia Story

ok, not really my first, but the first 5K I attempted to run. 

 Last weekend, my husband and I - and the boys of course - did the Hemophilia 5K Walk. It was a sunny day, luckily not too hot, but I couldn't really keep up with my husband's pace so he took off with the stroller (and my water bottle. :-/ )And even though I got a little mixed up on the course and walked a lot of the way it was still enjoyable. Even more it was really neat to see so many people come out for a cause that is near and dear to me. 

 You see ever since I was young I've been very familiar with hemophilia. Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder in which the part of the blood that causes clots is low. So the person affected with the disorder takes longer to stop bleeding or bruises much easier than a person with normal factor levels. Hemophilia also varies in severity and one person can be very severe and need injections to stop bleeding, or a person may just need to avoid contact sports and take precautions if they ever need surgery.

In my family, my dad, an uncle, and several cousins are affected by this condition. For my dad, he has only gotten a handful of hematomas, or a pooling of blood in the tissue. It's like a HUGE bruise. I think I only remember him getting 3? in my lifetime. One time it was from a long day of physical work and then jumping on the trampoline with me and my cousin on his knees. The next day his knee was the size of a cantaloupe. He was down for a week or more while he healed. 

(not my dad- but this is a hemotoma on a man's leg 6 days after a fall)

We knew there was a limit for my dad; couldn't be too rough when wrestling and we had to be careful playing sports. Even though he hasn't had many bad injuries, I would always worry about the "what-if's". What if he got into an accident or what if he dropped the trailer tongue on his finger and sliced a part of his finger tip off....Oh wait, he did that last one! Luckily he was alright. 

But a bleeding disorder can be a scary thing - you need your blood! It's kinda one of those crucial things!

My parents told me that when I got older they would have me tested to see if I was a carrier of hemophilia. Well in 9th(?) grade Biology, I learned about genes, DNA, and chromosomes. All that fun stuff. Well from what I knew about hemophilia, it's carried on the X chromosome, I did the 'math' and knew I had to be a carrier. My dad had to give me his X chromosome for me to be a girl (XX). So from then on I knew I was a carrier and that my boys had a 50% chance of having hemophilia. 

Fast forward to 2009 when we had Andrew. We knew he had to be tested and after relocating, finding a pediatrician and getting health insurance from Curt's new job, we did finally have him tested. His results came back with normal levels. Phew. Then this year Ben was tested. Still good news; his levels came back at 20%, which means he does have hemophilia, but not as severe as my dad or cousins. 

So life these days is mostly normal. Ben has gotten a few bruises - one on his knee, one on his chin, and just the other night a bonk on his head that gave me a good scare, but nothing serious. I try to make sure he doesn't take any big spills or if he does, I check him out really well and try to put ice on it. (Have you ever tried putting ice on an infant-ha!)
(bumped his head on the table)

 Honestly, I've been somewhat hesitant to tell people because I feel like they would treat him differently and a few people do, gasping at every small stumble he takes. Mostly though he's just another kid, which I prefer. I'd rather be the one to worry, I just want him to be treated like any other kid. 

So long story short- I felt really uplifted doing this walk/run because of my history with it. Plus for most of my life, no one seemed to know anything about hemophilia so to see so many people there was humbling. I may or may not have almost cried when everyone was lining up. Shhh don't tell anyone ;-)

Thank you to all those who participated in the 5K and all those who support me and my family. I think about all the other families who are affected with much worse conditions and my heart goes out to them. May you have strength and courage to make it through and live a full and happy life! 

For us, we play it day by day. Most days hemophilia isn't an issue, but other days I worry about a bump or fall - especially now that Ben is starting to walk. I do my best not to let my nerves get the best of me and help my boys live and play like normal little boys, who love to wrestle, climb, and throw stuff. It is ironic to me though that the child with hemophilia is the rough and tumble kid and the one without the condition loves puzzles, reading books, and can sit still fairly well. lol. Oh well, there is a plan in place that's bigger than me, so I know everything will work out.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Getting Pizza Stains Out of Carpet

We had pizza the other night. My husband was still at work and my youngest was already in bed so I thought it would be fun for Andrew and me to watch a little show together while eating dinner. 

Well as he brought his plate of pizza to his chair, he spilled it. Red tomato sauce all over the light carpet.  :-(

Luckily I had mixed up some spot cleaner earlier in the day for some laundry stains. All I did was mix 1/4 tsp Basic H2 and 1/2 tsp Nature Bright with 8 oz of water. 

Applied to the stained area

In fact, since Andrew was so sad about his mess, I let him do it. I'm so grateful all of Shaklee's products are non-toxic so he can help clean too. 

 I blotted it with a washcloth and it came right out!

 Not a hint of tomato sauce left!

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